A regular contributor to Open Air Business and a favourite on the seminar circuit, but did you know about her swords?!
Favourite tipple: Oscillates between gin and bubbly
Last holiday destination: Wales – staycations rule
Cats or dogs? Dogs – more loyal, better cuddles
Current boxset / TV must watch: Not a fan, but winter is coming so that might change
Something people may not know about me: I own more swords and bushcraft knives than skirts
What is your background?
In a nutshell: sales, marketing, hospitality, design, tourism. I’ve also organised workshops, camps, conferences and festivals, and restored several properties. For the last seven years it’s been in holiday rental, cottages and (predominately) glamping.
How did you get started in the glamping industry?
I was with holiday cottage agency Quality Cottages in 2010 when director Tim Rees started the glamping equivalent, Quality Unearthed. He asked me to help develop the new business, so a big thank you goes out to Tim. I left QU, which is based in Wales, earlier this year to move back to England and subsequently decided to offer my own advice and design service.
What has been your most fantastic glamping experience?
It’s all been fantastic, but working with the Ministry of Tourism in Ecuador last year was something else. I was flown over to conduct a feasibility study on glamping as part of a post-earthquake tourism regeneration plan. I had 10 days to cover the coast looking for potential sites, gather information and familiarise myself with the destination, and was subsequently asked to create three glamping developments. It was a challenging project on many levels, and a unique and incredible experience.
You have a holistic approach to site design – explain your interests in permaculture and sustainability
‘Holistic’ really does sum it up. I take everything into account, evaluating input vs. output across the board so I can create glamping solutions that are functional, guest-centric and profitable. My interest in sustainability and permaculture probably stems from a semi-feral, rural childhood; it’s not just the memories that I treasure, it’s the countryside itself.
What one thing would you change about the industry if you could?
The name itself – glamping. I’ll confess to have given much thought to a replacement.
You are well established on the seminar circuit – what do you want people to take away from your talks?
Three things: Impartial, solid information; to feel inspired and enthused (whenever possible I include new concepts and ideas); and to have a better understanding of what I can do for them, and why I do it. This is the first year I’ll be giving seminars representing myself so you might notice a difference.
What are your predictions for the future growth and shape of the glamping industry?
Different glamping sectors are at various stages of growth and demise; resort developments are gaining momentum while others are losing favour. I think specialist models are more likely to grow as businesses seek to differentiate, and more corporate leisure and hospitality businesses will start to include glamping. Overall, I believe that the industry has some way to go before it reaches peak saturation in the UK.
Are you working on any exciting projects you can tell us about?
They are all exciting, and quite varied, some are in Europe and I’ll be heading back to Australia this winter. In particular, two projects offer exciting opportunities for glamping innovation – one is a fabulous waterside location, and another is associated with a distillery. I’m also doing interior design work for a structure manufacturer, which is fun, plus projects of my own.
How can readers make use of your experience?
At the ‘fact-finding’ stage they could attend one of my workshops or exhibition seminars. If they already have ideas or a potential location it’s best to have a chat on the phone – there’s no fee for this. The next step would be for me to visit the site (I’m told my site appraisals are ‘enlightening’) which is an affordable way to get a practical, honest opinion on potential. If the landowner wants to pursue the project to the next stage, and with my support, we take the process forward from there. Confidentiality is important to most of my clients and is assured from day one.